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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Feb 27;98(5):2544-9. Epub 2001 Feb 20.

Establishment of medaka (Oryzias latipes) transgenic lines with the expression of green fluorescent protein fluorescence exclusively in germ cells: a useful model to monitor germ cells in a live vertebrate.

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  • 1Laboratory of Reproductive Biology, National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki 444-8585, Japan.


We have generated transgenic medaka (teleost, Oryzias latipes), which allow us to monitor germ cells by green fluorescent protein (GFP) fluorescence in live specimens. Two medaka strains, himedaka (orange-red variety) and inbred QurtE, were used. The transgenic lines were achieved by microinjection of a construct containing the putative promoter region and 3' region of the medaka vasa gene (olvas). The intensity of GFP fluorescence increases dramatically in primordial germ cells (PGCs) located in the ventrolateral region of the posterior intestine around stage 25 (the onset of blood circulation). Whole-mount in situ hybridization and monitoring of ectopically located cells by GFP fluorescence suggested that (i) the increase in zygotic olvas expression occurs after PGC specification and (ii) PGCs can maintain their cell characteristics ectopically after stages 20-25. Around the day of hatching, the QurtE strain clearly exhibits sexual dimorphisms in the number of GFP fluorescent germ cells, a finding consistent with the appearance of leucophores, a sex-specific marker of QurtE. The GFP expression persists throughout the later stages in the mature ovary and testis. Thus, these transgenic medaka represent a live vertebrate model to investigate how germ cells migrate to form sexually dimorphic gonads, as well as a potential assay system for environmental substances that may affect gonad development. The use of a transgenic construct as a selective marker to efficiently isolate germ-line-transmitting founders during embryogenesis is also discussed.

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